High ground

Thalassocracy image from Atomic Rockets

Thalassocracy image from Atomic Rockets

Gaining “high ground” in military combat has been desirable for more than 2,000 years.

There were several benefits to this military strategy:

  • Enhanced field-of-view

  • Less effort expended by soldiers moving downhill than uphill

  • Harder and more navigable terrain

From Sun Tzu:

"High Ground," says Mei Yao-ch`en, "is not only more agreement and salubrious, but more convenient from a military point of view; low ground is not only damp and unhealthy, but also disadvantageous for fighting."

Other examples where “high ground” or equivalent is used:

  • Thalassocratic empires in Science Fiction. These are Interstellar empires where the emperors rule from orbit. This is analogous to the British Empire's rule from the seas

  • Fortnite builds. In this Battle Royale game, players expend material to gain high ground over their opponent in even the smallest of encounters

  • The origin story of Darth Vader

  • Drafting. In cycling, the cyclist drafting another has to expend less energy to move forward, has more visibility of his opponent and has the optionality to overtake

Aftermath of a Fortnite build battle

Aftermath of a Fortnite build battle

High ground ultimately is a point of higher potential energy. Higher potential energy in the form of gravity optionality allows the high-ground holder to move downward without expending significant energy..

In Business strategy, a “high ground” positioning could mean a position of greater optionality or greater information. For example, a vertically integrated player can decide which parts of the value chain are more profitable and reduce their offering easily. A low cost player has more freedom to raise prices as their monopoly strengthens whereas premium players often cannot justify price decreases due to high costs.


Thalassocracy from Atomic Rockets

Thalassocracy from Wikipedia